Budget, China emerge as themes at Reagan National Defense Forum


Leo Shane III, deputy editor of Military Times, and Ashley Tressel, managing editor of Inside the Army discuss takeaways from the Reagan National Defense Forum in California, and congressional reaction to the president’s proposed $700 billion defense budget.

At last weekend’s Reagan National Defense Forum, speakers refrained that China has become a major threat to the United States. On this edition of the Pentagon Beat, our panel discussed this and other overarching themes at the conference.


Ashley Tressel, managing editor of Inside the Army—

“China was the dominant theme at the conference. Lawmakers and defense policy hawks were saying ‘How do we deal with China? Where do we need to push back and where can we extend a hand and work together on some issues… Secretary Wilson of the Air Force was very vocal about it, she said China is the pacing threat, not so much as Russia because of the pace of investment and development that they’re going for. The Navy has more of an interest in China. As an Army reporter, I hear more about Russia. But that was not the theme at the conference this year.”



Leo Shane III, deputy editor of Military Times—

“It sort of had a feel of a little bit of doom and gloom. Even though we had a year where the budget came in early. It should have been a successful year, but everybody is looking ahead to a divided Congress, to Trump’s talk of cuts in the defense budget…

We haven’t seen the defense budget get finished this early. That sort of got glossed over very quickly. On to the next topic, on to a lot of concerns. In a year where there was a lot to take a half step back and celebrate a bit. We didn’t do that. We pushed through to the next doom and gloom.”